Bewdley Museum

The Shambles, Load Street,
Worcestershire, DY12 2AE

Tel 0845 603 5699

Bewdley and its Past
Today's visitors to Bewdley are attracted by the peaceful riverside setting and the picturesque timber-framed and Georgian brick buildings, visible evidence of a time when the town was a flourishing commercial centre. This prosperity was brought about by two important factors in Bewdley's development - the Wyre Forest and the River Severn.

Before the transport revolution of the late eighteenth century the River Severn was the main artery of communication in the area. Traffic was busy and at Bewdley hauliers were continuously loading wares into flat-bottomed boats known as "trows". Goods taken downstream included ironware from the Black country, earthenware from Stoke, and timber from the Wyre Forest. Among the items brought upstream through Bewdley were raw materials such as china clay from Devon and imported goods such as wine, tobacco and citrus fruits.

Bewdley was an important fording point on the river well before the first bridge was built in 1447. The bridge that is used today was completed in 1798 under the direction of Thomas Telford.

After becoming an incorporated borough in 1472, Bewdley had its own markets, held its own courts, enjoyed the privilege of using a coat of arms, and voted a Member to Parliament. The Palace of Tickenhill at the top of Park Lane not only brought royal guests to the town, but was also one of the meeting places for the Council of the Marches of Wales.

Bewdley's historial past was considered important enough to be preserved and so, in 1969, a Museum Trust was formed. The Museum itself was opened in 1972 in the old butchers' Shambles, located underneath the Town Hall. The aim of the Museum remains the same today - to collect and interpret evidence of Bewdley's fascinating past. Each year the Museum organises a programme of events to stimulate interest in crafts which were formerly an importanat part of everyday life. The annual coracle making workshop is an example of how the Museum has helped to rediscover a once familiar local skill. Another important aspect of the Museum's work is the collection of oral recordings of people who work in local industries. These provide a valuable insight into life in the region during the twentieth century.